Rising electricity demand met by both coal and clean electricity
Asia is home to 80% of the world’s coal generation. Fortunately, the era of building new coal power plants is drawing to a close, and clean electricity investment now significantly outweighs fossil electricity investment in almost all countries and areas/economies in the region. Clean power already provides more than 30% of Asian electricity, with 2021 seeing significant growth in wind (+166TWh), solar (+118TWh) and nuclear (+58TWh).
China gets a similar proportion of its electricity from wind and solar as the world average; India did, but has recently lagged behind slightly as wind generation slowed.
Whilst long-term energy transition targets exist in most Asian economies, many lack immediate plans for the coal-to-clean transition which must be complete by 2040. There are plans in most countries for new investment into fossil gas to make electricity, but recent volatility in the global gas market may see these plans rethought.
Asia is also experiencing faster electricity demand growth than any other region, about 5% per year. Overall, the level of new clean electricity is struggling to keep pace with fast electricity demand growth, so fossil generation keeps growing – and with it, emissions. Most Asian economies are yet to see power sector emissions begin to structurally fall.
Rising electricity demand makes it difficult for fast-growing Asian economies to reduce their reliance on coal power. What happens in Asia is without doubt the most important for determining whether we can limit temperatures to 1.5 degrees.
Last updated: March 2022